New Bosnian Refugee Law Proposed

The Council of Ministers has asked the Bosnian Parliament to adopt a new draft Law on refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in order to solve their most pressing needs.The draft law – which was done by the Bosnian Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees – ensures that all refugees and internally displaced persons, IDPs, in the country have the right to return to their pre-war homes or choose to live elsewhere.

Under the proposed law, returnees can ask for return of their pre-war property or compensation in case that is not possible.

It is envisaged that the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees will create a country wide list of returnees and IDPs.

The primary aim of the draft law, according to the Council of Ministers, is to make sure that the housing needs of all returnees are taken care of.

“According to the draft law – until the complete implementation of the Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Accord – the Bosnian State institutions, entities, the Brcko district, cantons, cities and municipalities will give 2 percent from budgets to fund projects”, said the Council of Ministers.

The Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which was signed in 1995 and ended the Bosnian war, is the Agreement on Refugees and Displaced Persons, under which the State has vowed to make sure all refugees and displaced persons have the right to return to their homes of origin.

The Bosnian authorities have been active in the past year in trying to improve the situation of returnees. In November this year, the Bosnian Federation has dreached a decision to spend nearly five million euros on projects for agriculture and small businesses in order to help returnees to the Serb dominated entity of Republika Srpska.

Earlier this year in a joint effort to raise 500 million euros necessary to “permanently solve the refugee issue in the Balkans” – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro – organized a donors’ conference in Sarajevo.

They managed to obtain around 300 million euros, which will be used to support the return of refugees and those displaced by the 1990s wars in the region, by solving their housing rights. The project to build permanent housing for both refugees and IDPs, is supposed to help the Balkans countries assist some 74,000 people.

According to the Bosnian goverment, the country has around 10,000 refugees and internally displaced persons.

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